by Donna Jo Napoli
A retelling of Beauty and the Beast, from the Beast's point of view: who he was when he was a prince, how he got cursed in the first place, and what happened thereafter.
It is a very interesting idea (the Beast is actually a Persian prince who is changed into a lion by a vindictive spirit, and what happens to him after), but I have to confess I didn't enjoy it as much as some of her other stories. Mostly, I think, because there is so much time the prince spends in solitude, out in the wild, learning that he can't live as a lion, and he can't live as a man, so what is he to do? There is a great deal of narrative simply describing his travels and the learning process as he tries to figure out how to do lion-like things, like hunt. I can tell that Napoli loves nature and wildlife, and her accuracy in capturing the harsh reality of life in the wild is exact—but boring if, like myself, the reader is expecting a fairy tale and narration from the nature channel. (And don't get me wrong; I LOVE that kind of stuff. I drive my husband nuts every time he flips past the Discovery channel and I make him stop.)
Nevertheless, the story is written extremely well, and does get much more interesting (at least, from my point of view) when he runs into Beauty's father and strikes the deal to buy a girl for a rose. After that, I admit, I really enjoyed it.